WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Building rumours 13: apartments everywhere


I had to make a correction to my previous Building Rumours post, because it seems I had my wires crossed, and Serepisos is apparently planning his tower for Lambton Quay rather than Willis St. I'm still not sure about this, as the suggested site (somewhere near Cable Car Lane) is already pretty full of tall buildings, and it seems hard to work out where another might be squeezed in. That 76 Willis St site is still the subject of a planned development though, and while it's being advertised for sale at the moment, there's talk that the original developer's plans are still being progressed through the consent process. There's a mysterious website that promises to reveal all shortly, and I wonder whether it's any coincidence that the site is designed by a company that also lists ArcHaus as a client.

Monument apartment development, cnr Wakefield & Tory streetsMeanwhile, there's plenty of more reliable apartment development news to pass on. The most publicised is the Monument development on the corner of Wakefield and Tory streets, which complement the Piermont apartments announced back in January. The combined development has fairly blocky proportions, but I quite like it nonetheless. The Monument building doesn't have quite as much spatial variety as the Piermont, but the contrast with its neighbour, the corner treatment, and the way that the double-height apartments rise in "stacks" slightly separate from the rest of the building, all combine to break down the mass just slightly. The random patterning in the glass is a fairly arbitrary way of adding some decoration to simple fa├žades, but it all gives the impression of a quality development and a decent contribution to the streetscape. Well, at least it's better than the Warehouse.

Apartments planned for the corner of Taranaki & Wigan StWhich is more than I'd say for Richmastery's latest assault on Taranaki St: two 13-storey blocks shoehorned onto the corner of Taranaki and Wigan streets. There are some token attempts to break up the monotony of the surfaces, but while it's hard to tell from these poor-quality images, somehow I just don't get the feeling that it will get the benefit of exquisite detailing and fine materials. At least their previous attempt across the road seems to have been knocked back to some extent by the planners: the latest word is that the new version of the Q on Taranaki development will be lower and not result in the demolition of the old Murdoch factory. It remains to be seen whether it's actually going to be a decent building, but it's good to hear that the rules are having some effect.

Soho apartments, planned for 72 Taranaki StFurther down Taranaki, there's an even taller pair of towers on the way at number 72. But these ones seem to benefit from the extra height, with the southern tower in particular looking nicely slender from this angle. I'm not sure about the angled roof planes, and it's hard to tell whether the detailing and materials will be any good, but it might not be too bad. Sixteen stories seems awfully high for Te Aro, but this is actually in the transition zone between the high- and low-city zones, and there are a few buildings in the vicinity of comparable height (though funnily enough, not shown in this sketch). It should certainly be more appropriate here than further up Taranaki St, and replacing a fairly nondescript office block is better than knocking down a pleasant little Art Deco building with a well-known mural.

I'm encouraged by the increase in density that this represents (and as at 2006, Te Aro was still less dense than Mt Victoria in terms of residential population), but less so by the quality of architecture. It ranges from fairly decent through mediocre to downright nasty. What will it take to get something truly stunning and innovative like this? Come on Mr Serepisos, if you really want to be remembered positively by Wellingtonians, take the punt on something magnificent.

12 Comments:

At 9:39 PM, May 16, 2007, Blogger Zippy Gonzales said...

Mortgage rates from 2% for Soho? WTF?

 
At 7:42 AM, May 17, 2007, Blogger P-Style said...

"Come on Mr Serepisos, if you really want to be remembered positively by Wellingtonians, take the punt on something magnificent. "

Like the Phoenix perhaps? ?

 
At 10:37 AM, May 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only site that I guess would be possible is the one that includes the Lambton Quay entrance of the James Cook hotel,But again this is not a huge site,

I'm unsure of the ownership, but I suspect that the Hotel would not be greatly pleased having a tower obscuring its views

 
At 10:45 AM, May 17, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Zippy: everything's quoted in Sterling, so I wonder whether the mortgage might be based in the UK too. Any idea what interest rates are like there at the moment? Either that, or the developers are subsidising the rates in order to secure enough funding to take the project further.

Anon: that's the only site I could possibly think of, too, and it seems it would be a real squeeze. Interestingly, the current arcade and medium-rise building behind it were designed by Roger Walker (and Gus Watt, I think), and Walker used to be Serepisos' architect of choice.

 
At 4:30 PM, May 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

following up on the comment by anonymous-
Does Serepisos have any connection to the James Cook Hotel? I ask because a couple of weeks ago on a saturday I was taking the pedestrian access route through the hotel and he was there.

 
At 7:23 PM, May 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the choice of name alone irritates the heck out of me. "Soho". I've been there, and the reason it is such a great place is because the buildings are all 4-6 stories tall, and there are no 16 story rabbit hutches... (well, except for the ex Westminster council one on Berwick St, which blightes that immediate area...

this wave of shitty apartments in 16 story towers will of course have the effect of making the area more like Hackney Wick, or perhaps the infamous Ronan Point....

 
At 12:50 PM, May 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I agree about the name. But what interests me is what makes you automatically label them "rabbit hutches", when there's nothing in the description about the size of the apartments. They'd have to be pretty tiny to be smaller than the average Soho flat! Or is it that any tall apartment building has to be full of "rabbit hutches" or "shoe boxes", no matter how big the individual apartments?

"this wave of shitty apartments in 16 story towers will of course have the effect of making the area more like Hackney Wick, or perhaps the infamous Ronan Point...."

I don't follow your logic. The Ronan Point disaster was due to bad construction: do you know something about the structural integrity of these proposals that the rest of us don't? The social problems in Hackney (or any other London Borough with high-rise estates) can't be blamed exclusively (or even predominantly) on architecture, and if you concentrate a lot of poor and desperate people into a ghetto, especially if you disrupt existing social networks to do so, then it doesn't matter whether they're in 6 or 16-storey buildings. If height and density were enough to make a place into a slum, then Oriental Bay and the Upper East Side would be ghettoes.

Of course, these apartments could indeed be "shitty": it's hard to tell from what little information's there. But just being 16 stories isn't enough to make them so.

 
At 10:59 PM, May 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing that we often overlook is the rise of rooftop or penthouse additions to buildings, given the advent of machineroom less lifts and smaller aircon plants, Wellington is truly becoming a bit of a building recappers paradise!

 
At 11:20 AM, May 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see in todays dom, that Roger walker is the designer of the approved tower (22 Stories) to go up between The terrace and athol Place, I wonder if mr Serepisos is involved,

No construction time frame was given in the article, but it explains the many sales in the sirocco block in the recent times

 
At 11:35 AM, May 29, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, I saw that. I remember looking at the earlier Resource Consent application, which did have to be notified since it breached the plan, but I think it's been amended quite significantly since then, which is why the most recent one wasn't notified.

I don't think Serepisos is involved: at least, there's no mention of it on his Century City website.

 
At 11:38 PM, May 29, 2007, Anonymous deepred said...

There was a copy of a DomPost article I posted on SkyscraperCity not too long ago about the Terrace apartments. The developer is Mihos Investment Group.

 
At 6:38 PM, August 12, 2009, Anonymous Bygningsentreprise said...

Yeah all of you are right. You have the right opinion regarding in this article.

 

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